METS ACROSS THE SEA
Soccer has become a synonym for violence in many of the major soccer-playing countries, including proper old England, the mother of the sport. A few weeks ago 30 fans at a game between Manchester United and Derby County had to watch the game in their stocking feet because the police had confiscated their shoes. The shoes had steel toe caps, or hobnails, or both, and the police, all too familiar with trouble at and after soccer games, said they regarded the shoes as "offensive weapons."
The last evidence of continuing hooliganism brought the following comment from Robin Esser of London's Daily Express: "Contrast this situation with New York. There, in one of the world's most violent cities, a place where the murder rate regularly climbs to over 900 a year—compared to 50 a year in London—60,000 noisy and ebullient fans can cram themselves into the Shea Stadium to watch the Mets baseball team. And, win or lose, there will be no steel boots hacking shins, no bottles cracked over heads, no trains ripped apart.
"I'm sure it isn't just the game. Baseball can sometimes be every bit as violently physical as soccer. Supporters are as vocal, fanatical and one-sided as any follower of Rangers or Celtics.
"So why the difference? I believe the explanation is that baseball clubs in the U.S. treat their supporters as people, not as cattle. There is a seat for everyone in the stadium. There are hot dogs, sandwiches, peanuts, even beer—in cardboard cartons, just in case—ready to be served to any paying customer in his or her seat.
"Drum majorettes [sic!] make a pleasing display on the field, the scoreboards are illuminated and illuminating. The fans are encouraged to bring their families with them. All this seems to ensure that violence on the terraces and on the special trains and coaches which bring the crowds is rarely seen.
"So isn't it about time the game of soccer and the clubs which play it put their houses in order instead of blaming everybody else? After all, it's difficult to kick somebody with your steel boots if you are sitting down and your wife is beside you and your small son is on your knee."
THE WORD IS CHUTZPAH
Ken Harrelson, the playboy of the American League, charged in his autobiography (SI, July 14 et seq.) that Gil Hodges, who had been Harrelson's manager when the Hawk played for the Washington Senators, was "unfair, unreasonable, unfeeling, incapable of handling men, stubborn, holier-than-thou and ice cold...a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." But just to show that he had no hard feelings, Harrelson called his old manager after Hodges had won the National League pennant with the New York Mets. The Hawk wanted to know if Gil could get him some World Series tickets.
Nevele Pride, who two months ago trotted the fastest mile ever (1:54 4/5) to break the fabled Greyhound's 31-year-old world record, was retired last week at the age of 4. Trainer-Driver Stanley Dancer had hoped that Nevele Pride, who had won $871,738, would become the first trotter and second harness horse to win $1 million, but when a bone chip in the colt's left foreleg—an affliction he has had since the start of his three-year-old campaign—began to act up, Dancer decided to call it a day.